Everything and every action counts. It is not up to you to make decisions; you are restricted. You were placed behind a heavy metal door, which leaves a heavy impact on your soul. You move in a narrow space and have nothing but your bedding, which is used for all your activities, whether sleeping, sitting, or reading.
The prison guard is simply your sponsor. You should think well to choose concise and convincing words to make a request, after which you wait for him to give a nod of approval or rejection.
You have to wait. Your needs will not be met immediately since everything in prison is about waiting.
If you want to enter the bathroom, you have to choose the right timing, when the crowd lessens, so that you can answer the call of nature, take a shower, or wash your hands carefully. It would be foolish of you to not reserve. It would be exhausting and very difficult as you cannot negotiate postponing your desire to relieve yourself.
If you feel hungry, you should wait until someone visits you. The food will be left next to the cell door, and of course you will share it with the prison guard, as if it is a meal for both of you.
You have to wait until the end of a visit before the guard will open the door and allow you to eat your food, or what remains of it, if he remembers. It is common that the food may be left for five hours in front of your eyes next to the cell door, seen through the glass in the iron door, but you cannot touch it.
In this case, you should come up with a plan and convince the prison guard to come to you. You may tell him that the food is hot and you should eat it before it gets cold. You may tell him that there is a cat and it may spoil your food, which would then be thrown in the trash instead of your stomach.
You wait for time to be still, to give your imagination a chance to drift over restrictions, barriers, and fences, and to float around places, faces, and situations to satisfy the instinct to survive and communicate with the outside world.
You wait until the door is opened and a newcomer enters, spending the whole day narrating his case and what brought him there. You may spend another day talking about a young man who will be released. The official slogan in prison is: “Those who enter prison are missing, and those who are released to the outside are reborn.”
Prison taught me how to be patient and to become accustomed to being on a waiting list. Even thinking about inspiring things can help you kill time.
Choosing a good time to read will help you prepare yourself for that. Reading is the most useful thing in prison. When the noise ends and everyone sleeps, I run to the door of the cell to take advantage of the light coming in from the long corridor. The most important pleasure starts now. Reading takes me away from the desolation to a place beyond my line of sight.
There is only one thing that I cannot stand. When the doors of neighbouring cells open and the defendants exit to prosecutors, you hear terrifying voices that make you feel you’re still crouching behind those doors after you used to fly outside these walls.
The waiting is miserable; it restricts desires inside you until they lose their meaning. It is the official currency in prison that you must save. Even time stops as you wait for it to pass.
Zizo Abdo is a political activist in the 6 of April Youth Movement. He was arrested on 5 May.